A New York teacher was been placed on administrative leave this week after allegedly forcing students to participate in a mock slave auction.
A parent of one of the students told WWNY 7 News that incident took place Tuesday at North Elementary School in the Watertown City School District. Nicole Dayes claims her 10-year-old son, who is African American, was told to stand in the middle of the classroom and play the part of a slave while his classmates took turns bidding on him.
"He and another African American child were put up in the middle of the class and told they were now slaves," Dayes told the outlet via email. "The teacher then started the 'bidding' by assigning prices to the Caucasian students. After the winning bid was placed, my son was then told how slaves would take the slave owners' last name and what he was to call the slave owner by. Then my son and the other 'slave' were instructed to call the Caucasian child by 'master' and the child’s last name."
The school district says the teacher has been placed on leave as officials look into the matter. "The Watertown City School District has received complaints from parents that a fourth grade teacher exercised poor judgment in teaching a recent lesson," the district wrote in a statement. "The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation into the matter. The school district will not be providing additional comments until the investigation has been completed."
A similar incident occurred nearly two months ago at a private school in Bronxville, New York. Fifth-grade teacher allegedly Rebecca Antinozzi instructed her students to take part in a mock slave auction, in which the white children placed bids on their black classmates. After the teacher was terminated, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the school would implement new hiring and enrollment practices to ensure more diversity and racial sensitivity.